Security Debrief’s Stewart Verdery was quoted in the New York Times regarding President Obama and his response to heightened threats against the United States.
Trying to manage a terrorism threat in the middle of an election campaign, the Obama administration is walking a political and national security tightrope.
Remembering the debates over whether President George W. Bush sought to capitalize on the terrorism threat in the days before the 2006 election, White House officials do not want to look as if they are seizing on a potential catastrophe to win votes. But at the same time, they remember when President Obama was criticized when he said nothing publicly in the three days after an attempt to blow up an airliner last Dec. 25.
“Every president has to be able to take off the partisan hat and assume the role of nonpartisan commander in chief when there is a security incident,” said C. Stewart Verdery Jr., a former assistant secretary of homeland security under Mr. Bush. “The president should be the public face of the response to send the right signals to Americans worried about our defenses, especially those partisans who might be inclined to find fault with anything the administration does.”
David Rothkopf, a national security expert who worked in the Clinton administration, said the president took the right action in making a swift public statement. “For Obama to wait longer, with real devices on their way to real places – he would have been open to criticism,” Mr. Rothkopf said. “I think the response was measured. It was not designed to produce panic. I also think, frankly, that the way it was done was quite tempered compared to past statements that we’ve seen during an election season.”